Step 4: For the next 45 to 60 days, keep the area moist by spraying the mulch with water; if it's allowed to dry out completely, decomposition comes to a crashing halt. After about a month and a half, test the soil: Use a trowel to dig several small holes in different places in the bed. If the newspaper has disappeared and the grass below has been suffocated, then it's time to plant.
Step 5: When planting the bed, try not to disturb the soil; it's best to scoop out a plug of earth just large enough to slip in a plant, then gently replace the mulch around it. Within two to three years, the reclaimed newspaper bed will look as if it's been there for decades—and without having removed a single blade of grass.
Away with weeds
Most lawns have a significant number of weeds, some of which are more tenacious than the grass itself. If you find yourself dealing with particularly tough customers (such as quack grass, horsetail or wild buckwheat), increase the depth of each layer of newspaper, manure and mulch by several centimetres, and leave the area fallow for one full growing season.